BANGKOK — A 16-year-old dek van motorcycle street racer was arrested on Tuesday for doing wheelies in front of Wat Phra Kaew on the birthday of His Majesty the King.
The teen, whose name has been withheld, was arrested at his home in the suburbs of Min Buri after being accused of being one of two illegal street racers caught in a viral video doing wheelies on Na Phra Lan Road, where the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are situated.
Police Lt. Gen. Damrongsak Kittiprapat, assistant to the national police chief, said the teen admitted to being one of the racers in the viral clip, which netizens have criticized as being disrespectful to one of the most sacred places in the nation.
Out of Bangkok’s hundreds of streets, the daredevil teen chose Na Phra Lan Road because he was challenged to a race by another group of dek van who happened to be there to see the illuminations along nearby Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The teen confessed he was reckless and did not think about the importance of the area.
The police have indicted him on charges relating to organizing an illegal street race, reckless driving, and driving without a license. He will be tried in a juvenile court, while his father has been given parole under a now-defunct NCPO order which obliges parents to prevent their children from gathering at street races.
“I urge everyone not to race like my son,” the teen’s father wailed during a press conference on Tuesday. “It is an inappropriate place to race.”
The father could spend three months in prison if his son is caught repeating the offense.
The owner of the motorbike the teen borrowed and an auto-parts shop who tuned the motorbike will also be charged. Damrongsak said he will investigate the superintendent of Chanasongkram Police Station for possible malfeasance in office, related to allegations the area has been carelessly maintained.
Police Maj. Gen. Senit Samrarnsamruajkit, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1, confirmed over the phone that local police pursued the case on their own behest rather than under pressure from higher authorities.
“We are following our standard line of duty,” Senit said.
Another street racer caught in the clip on his red bike is still on the run. The police urged him to surrender, promising that the charges would be gentle if he turned himself in.